Blow-out: council awards play space contract

A desire not to water down the grand plan for Castlemaine’s new Victory Park play space has prompted Mount Alexander Shire Council to vote in favour of awarding a $455,793 contract to build it despite a significant budget blow-out.
The new play space for the well-used local park had been estimated to cost $326,000 with the council approving the detailed designs for the attraction last May following extensive public consultation.
The council had allocated funds of $237,000 in its 2018/19 capital works budget with the state government chipping in $89,500 for the innovative design.
The new play space is to replace the existing Victory Park playground with features including a zip line, rock climbing boulders, a babel drum, ping pong table, basket swing and wheelchair-accessible carousel.
At last week’s meeting councillors were asked to make a decision over whether to award the lump sum construction contract of almost $130,000 more than anticipated, after the tender process identified additional funds would be needed.
Cr Max Lesser moved the motion in favour of awarding the contract to Melbourne-based PTA Landscapes as recommended, despite the funding overrun, with Cr Dave Petrusma seconding the motion and noting that the costs of material and labour had increased significantly.
“As much as it pains me I think we’d better bite the bullet and get the job done,” Cr Petrusma said.
“We’ve promised the public we would.”
“I do have concerns about the cost and it’s something we might have to raise with the MAV for future projects.”
But Cr Petrusma noted that “an enormous amount of work has gone into the project,” adding, “it is a highly used space. It’s a wonderful project.”
Cr Henderson also supported awarding the contract despite the overrun, but stated “it’s a ridiculous price”.
“But luckily we’ve got a slush fund called our Open Space Reserve,” Cr Henderson said.
“We can actually afford it and I think it’s a worthy overspend.”
Cr John Nieman disagreed and questioned whether the council should be spending the increased sum on a children’s playground.
“We’re about to spend half a million on a kids’ playground,” Cr Nieman said.
“My concern is are we building something outside our size? Are we throwing good money after bad?”
When it came to the vote all councillors, except Cr Nieman, were in favour of awarding the tender despite the overrun, while mayor Cr Bronwen Machin was an apology for the meeting.

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